Splode: A beautiful chain-reaction game from the dudes who made Dr. Awesome and Doom Resurrection. Though the game play's pretty simple right now—just tap a cluster of Splodes and hope they splode enough other Splodes—the developers are promising updates with more music and game modes. It takes some swag to obscure a decent amount of the screen, which Splodes does with its grassy border graphic, but it manages to pull it off. $1
Also works on the iPad
The Dealmap: The Dealmap (which is free, naturally) aggregates sales, deals, discounts, and coupons in your city or town. You can see them scattered across a map or in a list view, which is sortable by type of discount or business.
You can also add deals you come across yourself to the database, earning status points to eventually become a Deals Hero. And between your daily session with the Professor and a league of deal heroes in your pocket, those are some pretty authoritative savings. Free
Borrowing the simple joy of the 8-bit era at its finest, The Incident is a wonderful take on casual iOS gaming. A nostalgic, chipper soundtrack, wonderfully bright graphics, gameplay that's perfect for several-minute stretches, and an extremely disturbing premise.
The Incident's protagonist is glumly waiting for a cab when, in true cartoon irony, a taxi falls from the sky and nearly crushes our pixelated pal. Hah! Cute, right? But wait. A slow trickle of beach balls, fences, couches, cars, and countless other doodads turn into a torrential downpour of urban detritus. Tilt your device from side to side to scurry out from under incoming objects (indicated by a blinking line at the top of the screen), and tap to jump up the pile. It's lively enough in a cartoonish way-Yikes! Where did all this stuff come from!-until you reach the end of the game's second level, giving you a skyline panorama of your town.
And then you see it. The smashed dome. The crunched crane. Plumes of smoke. My God. They're dead. They're all dead. Avenge the destruction of your townspeople and keep on ascending, collecting power-ups, coins, and trophies along the way. At $1.99, The Incident is a fantastic game (and commentary on consumerism? You decide!) with a terrific sense of humor, perfect to play in tense, frantic bursts-and really a visual pleasure despite its intentional simplicity.
Sounds more like a Situation to me. $2.
Also works on the iPad
Pinpoint Lightning: I'm not gonna act like everyone needs to run out and buy this $6 location-aware lightning-tracking app. But I'm definitely not gonna think you're a freak if you do run out and buy it. Lightning's awesome! Visually, the app's a little rough around the edges, but in my one test it did seem to track lightning quite accurately! Unsurprising, considering the data is beamed to your phone straight from the THE NATIONAL LIGHTNING DETECTION NETWORK. What a world we live in. $6
NinJump: NinJump, from the makers of the incomparably diverting Paper Toss, is a fun, free climbing game with all those ninja trappings you love. Not quite as complex or clever as some other games, but it's free! And it has ninjas.
Waze: Waze, the free, light-hearted turn by turn navigation app, just got its upgrade to 2.0, and it's a more viable replacement for the Navigons and Telenavs of the world than ever. In addition to being generally snappier and shinier, Waze 2.0 adds a neat group feature for organizing carpools and a system of rankings and achievements, you know, for making your commute fun. Wonderfully free.